Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on April 22, 2014

Gospel reading of the day:

John 20:11-18

Mary Magdalene stayed outside the tomb weeping. And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb and saw two angels in white sitting there, one at the head and one at the feet where the Body of Jesus had been. And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have 5d3ead90a3b5fa28bb547a069bc82ff6_w600taken my Lord, and I don’t know where they laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there, but did not know it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” She thought it was the gardener and said to him, “Sir, if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him, and I will take him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni,” which means Teacher. Jesus said to her, “Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'” Mary went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and then reported what he had told her.

Reflection on the gospel reading: When my mother died, my family and I faced a complicated situation involving my mother’s property that just kept becoming more and more complicated as people from outside our family made claims. It was chaotic, and it seemed like nothing good could come of what was transpiring. As the problems mounted, I briefly stepped outside my mother’s apartment onto the grounds of the apartment complex and asked my mother to intervene if there were anything she could do from the other side. In a matter of minutes, a series of events unfolded that addressed the issues in our dilemma with answers from previously unknown events that had peppered the landscape over years prior to our mother’s death. I tell the story because everything that transpired in that moment seemed like the natural unfolding of events, but it was so rapid and precise–and ensued so quickly on my prayer–that I had no doubt whatsoever that the coincidences that quickly mounted were a sign of God’s intervention with a grieving family. The events were so tailored to our great need in a given moment that they seemed far more than we dared to hope. Our sense of relief and joy was palpable.

When Mary Magdalene encountered first the angels and then Jesus himself at the tomb, she had a similar experience, that the Gordian Knot of her chaotic and grief-filled circumstance had suddenly and impossibly unraveled in a way that was at once rapid, precise, and tailored to her great need. When the events at the tomb happened on the day of resurrection, they transpired in the natural world with a series of coincidences that rapidly mounted as a sign of God’s intervention with a grieving woman, an intervention that seemed far more than she ever would have dared to hope.

Spiritual reading:

Seven Stanzas at Easter
by John Updike

Make no mistake
If he rose at all it was as his body;
If the cells’ dissolution did not reknit,
The amino acids rekindle,
The church will fall.

It was not as the flowers,
Each soft spring recurrent,
It was not as his spirit
In the mouths and fuddled eyes
Of the eleven apostles;

It was as his flesh: ours–
The same hinged thumbs and toes
The same valved heart that pierced, died, paused
Then gathered again out of enduring might
New strength to enclose.

And if we will have an angel at the tomb
Make it a real angel,
Opaque in the dawn light,
Weighty with Max Planck’s quanta,
Robed in real linen spun on a definite loom.

Let us not mock God with metaphor,
Transcendence, making of the event a symbol,
A sign painted in the credulity of a vanished age;
Let us walk through the door.
The stone is rolled back:

Not papier mache, not a stone in a story,
But the vast rock of materiality
That in the slow grinding of time
Will eclipse for each of us
The wide light of day.

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous
For our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
Lest awakened in an unthinkable hour
We are embarrassed by the miracle
And crushed by remonstrance.


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